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Best Bets for Batch & Bottled Cocktail Success


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#1 Chris Amirault

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Posted 06 August 2009 - 12:18 PM

In our eG Q&A with Gary and Mardee Regan back in 2004, Gary discussed bottled drinks briefly. The basics are simple:

[Y]ou take a cocktail recipe that you enjoy, add the amounts of all the ingredients, and add 1/3 of that amount in bottled water. Pour it into a bottle, refridgerate, and when guests come over you can simply pour straight from the bottle into chilled cocktail glasses. If the drink contains fruit juice, shake the bottle before serving.


I've seen the water fraction (which you add bc of the lost dilution by ice, of course) as low as 1/4, but as with most things you must fiddle to see what you think. I've talked about bottled drinks with a few bartenders, and they all admit that they do it quite regularly for catered events; the apprentices at Tales also devote a lot of time to batch cocktail production.

It's a tricky project, though, as ratios can get thrown off, citrus can grow dull, and the like. I've had success with Jack Roses, and I'm thinking about a spiced Daiquiri made with pineapple-infused rum for an event this weekend. I'd be interested to hear what sorts of drinks work well when bottled, and which drinks bomb.
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#2 Dave the Cook

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Posted 06 August 2009 - 12:32 PM

I don't have any specific recommendations, but generally, I think on-the-rocks drinks fare better. We almost always batch (adding 25% water) for our cocktail classes, and I'm consistently disappointed in those served up -- they're cloying, when they're not dull.

I finally realized that they weren't cold enough --the refrigerator just can't match the temperature of a shaken drink served immediately (hence the rocks suggestion). The freezers where we teach are always too full to accommodate a pitcher, so I haven't tried what seems to be the obvious solution.

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#3 mkayahara

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Posted 06 August 2009 - 12:37 PM

I agree with Dave's "on the rocks" suggestion. For that matter, I've only ever made bottled cocktails when I was planning to lengthen them with club soda or sparkling wine, but I find they do quite well under those circumstances.
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#4 Chris Amirault

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Posted 07 August 2009 - 02:11 PM

I think I'll be going with a base to which soda can be added. I have a few ideas I'll be playing with this weekend, but I'd appreciate suggestions.
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#5 mkayahara

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Posted 08 August 2009 - 08:42 AM

I think I'll be going with a base to which soda can be added. I have a few ideas I'll be playing with this weekend, but I'd appreciate suggestions.

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The two such cocktails I've done both involved Canadian whisky, so I'm thinking that won't be much help to you. (For the record, I did a Canadian Daisy last year, and a Canadian Collins this year; in both cases, they were for our Canada Day party.)

The one I did with sparkling wine is outlined here.
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#6 Chris Amirault

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Posted 08 August 2009 - 12:07 PM

I found Boca Loca cachaca very cheap in my neighborhood ($11/fifth) and have been playing around with a sling that stands, right now, as:

3 oz cachaca
1 oz lime
1 oz 2:1 cane syrup
1/2 oz Cherry Heering
2 dashes Angostura
1 dash Maraschino
3 cherries

In non-bottled test runs, I've muddled the cherries, added the booze, shaken, strained over ice, and topped with just a bit of soda.

At the event I'm attending, my guess is that there will be (a) wet ice and (b) overzealous soda use. I also think that the bottle is gonna warm up after I've chilled it. (The bottle will just be sitting on a drinks table; I have slight hopes that there will be a bartender present but I doubt it.)

So I'm thinking that I'll just bottle this without water, put a note on it describing what to do -- "Ice -- Sling -- Soda -- Stir" or something....
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#7 Chris Amirault

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Posted 09 August 2009 - 04:52 AM

Last night, I decided to add to the selection this Waldorf variation I'm calling a Ja, Mon Cocktail:

2 oz Swedish punsch (Underhill Punsch Tales version).
1 oz rhum agricole (Niesson)
1 oz lemon
2 dashes pimento dram (homemade)
dash cinnamon tincture

I mixed up the booze for both and put it in the fridge; I'll add the citrus and muddled cherry juices just before I head over to the event. I also bought a couple of liters of soda just in case they don't have any. (Stopping myself from bringing over my own ice, which, even for me, seems a bit excessive.)
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#8 slkinsey

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Posted 09 August 2009 - 06:18 AM

A few thoughts on batched cocktails:

If you batch the spirits separately from the citrus and combine to-order, you will preserve the brightness of the citrus better. It's not such a big deal to put in the citrus at the last minute.

Or, on the other hand, how about batching cocktails that don't need "bright? citrus? Plenty of punches (I think immediately of FHP) benefit from aging with the citrus.

Rather than pre-diluting and/or serving on the rocks, just get an oversized shaker and shake them out on site. This is what the cocktail crews have always done at the big charity events Audrey organizes (where everyone typically batches for at least 500).
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#9 Chris Amirault

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Posted 16 August 2009 - 06:02 PM

I had no control over or knowledge of the venue, so it's a good thing I brought these two ready to go, with juices added just before I left but with no extra water. Good thing, too: wet ice and warm soda was right -- and given the wine-dominated event I was "making" the drinks by stealing glasses, scooping ice from a chest, pouring a glug or two, and topping with soda based on my read of the recipient.

Given that it was all kludged, they turned out damned well. Erik's Underhill Punsch was a real hit in that Ja, Mon, in particular.
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#10 Chris Amirault

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Posted 20 August 2009 - 05:44 AM

Interesting notes about citrus from the (excellent, btw) BarSmarts Wired program on the subject:

Alcohol and sugar will retard the spoilage of citrus, which means that drinks containing all three can be batched as much as three or four hours before being used, although they should be kept refrigerated or on ice as much as possible. ...

In large quantities, citrus juice appears to increase in sourness; this means that it's always a good idea to add less of it than your formula calls for, taste and adjust up.


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#11 bostonapothecary

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Posted 27 January 2010 - 11:58 AM

Interesting notes about citrus from the (excellent, btw) BarSmarts Wired program on the subject:

Alcohol and sugar will retard the spoilage of citrus, which means that drinks containing all three can be batched as much as three or four hours before being used, although they should be kept refrigerated or on ice as much as possible. ...

In large quantities, citrus juice appears to increase in sourness; this means that it's always a good idea to add less of it than your formula calls for, taste and adjust up.


i guess i'll bump this thread. i've been doing a lot of batching and its kind of fun and liberating... good cocktails in adverse situations.

both of these bar smarts statements can be debunked which is cool because you don't have to worry about your drinks getting all wacky and unpredictable. citrus has a high "oxidation reduction potential". so does wine and even distillates. somethings doesn't really have a potential to reduce and somethings reduce to elegance which is a feature and not a flaw... oxidation has nothing to do with bacteria so alcohol does nothing to prevent it.

but the rule of thumb still stands. citrus will not change detrimentally for quite a few hours but definitely less than a day. an oxygen free keg doesn't even help because the citrus has already absorbed a decent amount of oxygen via the act of juicing.

citrus also doesn't increase in sourness. i've batched drinks up to 10 gallons and would never change my ratio from that of a single drink. batched drinks homogenize fast. even the sugar. if you can stir to dissolve a 1:1 simple syrup, homogenizing batched drinks is no big deal.

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#12 mkayahara

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Posted 27 January 2010 - 12:20 PM

citrus also doesn't increase in sourness. i've batched drinks up to 10 gallons and would never change my ratio from that of a single drink. batched drinks homogenize fast. even the sugar. if you can stir to dissolve a 1:1 simple syrup, homogenizing batched drinks is no big deal.

It's interesting to hear you say this, because I've never understood what "citrus in large volumes increases in sourness" was supposed to mean. I would think that a 10 ml sample of citrus juice from a total volume of 25 ml would be no different in its acidity (actual or perceived) from a 10 ml sample drawn from a total volume of 5000 ml, except that in the larger volume, you're averaging the sourness of many fruits, while in the small volume, you're working with the natural sourness of the one fruit. Glad to hear others voicing what my instincts have told me, but I'd be curious to know where this notion comes from.
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#13 Chris Amirault

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Posted 27 January 2010 - 06:31 PM

So "oxidation" is the issue, not the more general "spoilage"? And the "increase in sourness" stuff is flat-out wrong? Where does that idea come from?
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